An extensive amount of effort has been undertaken by many over the last three or so decades to better understand the movement of crude oil and petroleum products through terrestrial environments. This effort is based on a desire to better characterize and remediate environments that have been impacted by releases of these substances. The presence of ice in Arctic and Antarctic soils, the influence seasonal freeze and thaw cycling has on fluid movement, and the typically shallow active layers found in these environments all impact the movement of fluids in these soils in a manner not found in temperate soils (soils that do not experience deep freezing). How the unique Arctic and Antarctic conditions affect the movement of petroleum-related substances in these environments will be discussed in this chapter.
Understanding the mobility of contaminants in these environments becomes relevant when one considers the high cost of conducting site investigations and cleanup activities at locations in the Arctic and Antarctic that are often remote. In addition, uncertainty as to how cleanup activities may possibly enhance mobility of contaminants and degradation of the ecosystem by disturbing the fragile thermal balance is of concern in any cleanup activity in the Arctic and Antarctic. At the extreme, Snape et al. (2001) discussed the directives of the Antarctic Madrid Protocol (International Council of Scientific Unions 1993) to clean up past and present waste disposal sites. At many of these contaminated sites contaminated material that cannot be treated onsite will have to be removed from the continent, an expensive process. Onsite treatment will require the shipment of treatment equipment and materials to the research stations, again an expensive process. Thus, it becomes evident why understanding the mobility of contaminants becomes important, as even a small reduction in the material to be treated or shipped will result in economic benefit.
David L. Barnes
University of Alaska Fairbanks, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Water and Environmental Research Center e-mail: [email protected]
R. Margesin (ed.) Permafrost Soils, Soil Biology 16,
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-69371-0, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009
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